Surviving the Death Anniversary 💀🎉🤔Apr 13, 2023
I recently navigated my late husband Ian’s fourth death anniversary and I have to say...
This big grief milestone has gotten so much easier!
It’s not that my grief is gone, it’s that my approach to handling the day has entirely changed.
Trust me, I know how it goes. The dreaded day is nearing. You’re panicked – wondering if you should “celebrate” the worst day of your life, or just wrap yourself in blankets with Netflix on the couch.
You’re skeptical of your capacity to whether the tears – will the pain actually kill me? -- and questioning if you’d rather distract yourself having people around or spend time in total isolation. The truth is ...
There is no right or wrong way to do a death anniversary!
So, here are some tips that might guide you to do what feels most supportive FOR YOU 👇
Tips to Survive a Death Anniversary
🖤Remember the pain won’t kill you.
As the day approaches, remember that the anxiety you’re feeling is all in anticipation of the day, which is driven by your fear of uncertainty. Your brain creates a story and strings together concerns and questions, which sometimes get caught in a cycle – thus creating a spiral of negative thought.
You can stop the cycle by bringing your attention to the NOW and asking yourself – what am I really afraid of?
Remember that the pain won’t kill you. You’ve likely already walked yourself through the worst of it.
🖤 Find coping skills for your emotions.
You can reduce the anxiety surrounding the death anniversary by knowing that you have tools in your grief toolkit. Understanding how to regulate your nervous system with grounding techniques, movement or breath-work, and having strategies to move thru big emotions can help you feel in control and empowered in a situation where you might otherwise feel powerless.
Grief is a muscle. And you can strengthen and tone with coping skills!
🖤 Release the should’s.
There are no rules for how to spend a death anniversary. So try your best to release any expectations or
should’s around the day, which add unnecessary suffering.
Instead of asking yourself if an activity, thought or behavior is right or wrong, or good or bad, ask yourself what feels most supportive for me now?
What do I need to survive right now?
🖤 Remember that what you need right now might change.
What you decide to do one year for the death anniversary doesn't mean you have to do it every year following. Often when you try to project years out and create a steadfast ritual or tradition for the death anniversary right away, it can add unnecessary pressure regarding how to spend the day.
Your grief will change with healing and time! So allow your grief to dictate what feels best for you now.
🖤 Let your grief guide you.
Because there are no true guidelines on how to spend a death anniversary, bring the focus back to you. Check in with yourself and notice how you are feeling.
If it feels nourishing to celebrate the day with friends and family – go for it! If Netflix does the trick, then great! Trust yourself here. You do you!
And if you have children or family members who are navigating grief too, ask them what feels supportive for them as well. You can all be a bit selfish AND find ways to accommodate each person’s unique needs.
🖤 Make space for your emotions.
If you decide to have a celebration or engage others on the death anniversary, plan some time just for you! Create space in the day to be alone, to get quiet and still, in order to tap into your emotions and feel what’s coming up.
This might prevent a big “grief hangover” (ie. the day after a big milestone where you were distracted by the activities / suppressing grief, so you feel it all the following day) or getting activated during a celebration with others.
🖤 Find ways to remember with love.
Your person’s death anniversary will absolutely remind you of all that you have lost. So at the same time, can you hold the duality of your grief AND honor your person’s life?
Looking at old videos and pictures, exchanging stories with friends and family, and keeping your person’s memory alive on the day of their death might help soften the pain, to remember with love.
If you found these tips helpful, I invite you to share them someone else who this advice could serve. I also have a ton of free resources for grief & loss including blog posts, podcasts interviews and access to my private Facebook Group on my Free Resources Page. 🙏🏼
Or, if you are interested applying these tips in real-time by having a community and guide to help you navigate the unforeseen challenges of this never-ending journey thru grief, I invite you to check out my moveTHRU Membership – my brave space for coping, connection & community for grief!
There's lots of ways to navigate grief, but in my experience it's supportive and empowering to do not go at it alone.
I invite you to find healing & hope in some of these resources!
Love & light,
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